If you’re not paying close attention, it’s easy to miss the latest additions and improvements to downtown’s streetscape. Here are five of the coolest projects reshaping the neighborhood:
The New Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney St.
The 12-acre park has been hugely popular since opening a decade ago. Now a $12 million renovation, set to be completed this fall, will bring a dramatic new entryway, a 20-piece playground complete with a new hill, and updated lighting to accommodate late-night visitors and the more than 700 programs that take place here throughout the year.
Texas Tower, 845 Texas Ave.
Another Hines project, this 47-floor office tower replaces the old Houston Chronicle building. A double-height lobby will include food and drink options, along with co-working spaces and a sustainable design that’s earned LEED Platinum certification. When it’s completed in 2021, the building’s 1 million square feet of new office space will be home to Vinson & Elkins, the storied local law firm, among other tenants, and become the new global HQ for Hines itself.
Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, 790 Austin St.
Long relegated to a repurposed (and overcrowded) Montrose campus, Houston’s prodigies recently moved to the new Gensler-designed Kinder HSPVA building, which fills an entire downtown block. Inside, students enjoy amenities that include an 800-seat auditorium, gallery space, a recording studio, a print-making lab, a creative writing wing, and more. The Kinder Foundation chipped in $7.5 million of the $88 million cost, hence the new name.
The Preston, 414 Milam St.
At 46 stories, this Hines-developed showpiece will be downtown’s tallest residential tower, perfectly situated next to the theater district, office buildings, and lots of restaurants and bars. Amenities will include a pet spa, a bike shop, and a 10th-floor yoga lawn with a pool deck. Move-in for the 373 units is projected for late 2022.
Jones Plaza Revamp, 600 Louisiana St.
Long bemoaned as an eyesore resting atop that nightmarish Theater District Parking Garage, the plaza will undergo a $25 million renovation to transform its elevated concrete into a leafy oasis, complete with water features, art installations, and a fast-casual restaurant. The goal, officials say, is to create a counterweight to Discovery Green on the west side of downtown, with performance spaces that invite collaboration from the adjacent performing arts companies. Current plans predict curtains will rise on the new plaza by late 2020.